The first disabled list stint of Miguel Cabrera's illustrious career has come to an end. The Tigers first baseman returned to the field on Friday, finishing 0-for-3 with a walk in a loss to the Astros.
It was Cabrera's first action since he went down with a calf injury on July 3rd. He had been enjoying another MVP-type season prior to the injury, slashing .350/.456/.578 with 15 homers and 54 RBI in 77 games. He didn't ease back in with a minor-league rehab assignment and might have been a little rusty on Friday night, but we expect him to very quickly retake the reins as one of the American League's most dominant hitters.
* We had another no-hitter this week, with Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma delivering the fourth no-no of the 2015 season on Wednesday when he blanked the Orioles at home. Although the no-hitter hasn't been terribly rare in baseball lately, this was actually the first one in the American League since 2012, helping to illustrate the heightened challenge of pitching against AL lineups.
Iwakuma struck out seven and walked three in what was actually the first complete game of his impressive career. Since coming off the disabled list in early July after a strained late sidelined him for about a month, Iwakuma is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA and he's holding opponents to a .203 average. The 34-year-old is due for free agency this offseason and should have a very active market.
* Red Sox closer Koji Uehara is done for the season with a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist. He was having a tremendous year as Boston's closer, converting 25 saves with a 2.23 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Skipper John Farrell indicated that Jean Machi would be overtaking ninth-inning duties, however, it was Junichi Tazawa that got the first chance on Tuesday. He blew that save, and has allowed five runs in his last four appearances. We believe Machi is the guy to own the rest of the way.
* Jose Fernandez wasted no time recapturing his form after completing the lengthy road back from Tommy John surgery, going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 53-to-10 K/BB ratio in seven starts for the Marlins. Unfortunately, he's now back on the shelf with a strained right biceps muscle. The injury isn't believed to be all that serious and Fernandez has vowed to pitch again this season, but the Marlins will surely take a cautious approach with their young ace.
* It was a big week for the two foremost power-hitting rookies in the majors. On Wednesday, Miguel Sano blasted two mammoth home runs for the Twins, pushing his total to seven since being called up at the beginning of July. He also drove in six runs in the 3-for-3 effort. Not to be outdone, Kyle Schwarber added two jacks of his own on Thursday, and he now has eight in 32 games for the Cubs.
Sano and Schwarber, both 22, have adapted quickly to the MLB ranks and the best part from a fantasy perspective is their eligibility at positions of offensive scarcity (catcher and shortstop). Both are worth grabbing in almost any league.
* The Twins activated their other top prospect, Byron Buxton, from the disabled list but optioned him to Triple-A. Buxton, who was out for more than a month with a thumb injury, looked a bit overmatched in his first taste of the big leagues and there is now no room for him in Minnesota's outfield, with Aaron Hicks and Eddie Rosario playing well. He should be back in September.
* The Mets activated Michael Cuddyer from the disabled list on Monday, but his return did not lead to a demotion for Michael Conforto, who has looked solid in his initial exposure to the majors. The rookie outfielder does figure to see less playing time going forward and may function as more of a bench option. Cuddyer has been having a tough year but could be an asset for New York down the stretch, assuming he's fully healthy.
* Bruce Rondon picked up another save this week, with Tigers manager Brad Ausmus noting that the young fireballer could see more chances going forward. Alex Wilson appeared to overtake the closer role initially following the Joakim Soria trade but he's been battling shoulder problems this month and Rondon, with his high-90s heat and big strikeout rate, is the more intimidating option to lock down narrow victories. Ausmus stopped short of handing the job to the 24-year-old outright, adding that Wilson will still be in the mix, but Rondon is clearly the preferable guy to own.
* When Marcus Stroman tore an ACL in his knee during spring training, it was widely assumed that he would be out for the year. That is, after all, the typical outcome for such an injury. However, the electric young right-hander has been ahead of schedule in his recovery and was encouraged by a throwing session this week. Toronto now plans to send him on a rehab assignment next week, and he could potentially return in September. Although he would almost certainly pitch in middle relief, negating most of his fantasy value, it'd be a big boost for the Jays as they head into the playoffs.
Stroman will be a coveted sleeper in 2016 drafts.
* Johnny Cueto was good in his first start for the Royals, holding the Tigers to two runs over seven innings in Detroit. He faced that same Tigers team at home this week and was absolutely masterful, firing a four-hit shutout while striking out eight and walking none. Kansas City has found its ace and is going to be a scary opponent come October.
* Following his worst start as a Twin on Sunday, Phil Hughes was placed on the disabled list with a sore back. Trevor May moves back from the bullpen to replace him. With his ability to miss bats, May offers more fantasy upside than any pitcher currently in Minnesota's rotation, but for whatever reason he's been eschewed in favor of mediocre hurlers like Mike Pelfrey and Tommy Milone. With Hughes expected back in late August, we'll see what happens with May, who threw three innings in a start on Friday night and needs to be stretched out.
* The Yankees called up first base prospect Greg Bird and the 22-year-old went 0-for-5 in his major-league debut on Thursday. Bird, who had put up an 853 OPS with six homers in 34 games at Triple-A, will have a hard time finding daily playing time with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira occupying DH and first base, but obviously there's a reason he got the call and his power from the left side is intriguing in Yankee Stadium.
* Josh Hamilton was scratched from Wednesday's game for the Rangers and sat out on Thursday as well, bothered by a sore left knee. He underwent an MRI on Friday but the results are not yet known. Staying on the field continues to be a major challenge for the former MVP.
* Cole Hamels was scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday with a sore groin, but the Rangers are hopeful he'll be able to go against the Mariners on Monday.
* Sonny Gray was also scratched Thursday, with back spasms, but his ailment is also considered to be relatively minor. He should be back next week.